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New in paperback

Highlights from this season's releases

What Technology Wants

(Penguin, 2011; $17)

The founding executive editor of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly, looks at the relationship between humans and technology in a book described by reviewer Zaheer Baber as “original and timely” (Nature 468, 372–373; 2010). Kelly argues that the increasing complexity of technology means that we have less control over how mechanical systems evolve. Although this “technium” is neither alive nor sentient, Kelly warns that it may develop its own wants.

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

(Free Press, 2011; $15)

Journalist Sam Harris argues that science can help us to understand moral values. Harris “eloquently counters the jaded pessimists who think that science has little to say about happiness”, wrote reviewer Pascal Boyer (Nature 469, 297; 2011).

Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life

(Simon & Schuster, 2011; £8.99)

Richard Cohen examines why our star is studied and even worshipped. Douglas Gough noted that the book “paints a fascinating and far-reaching scene that incorporates nearly all aspects of solar phenomena” (Nature 468, 504–506; 2010).

The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind

(Harvard Univ. Press, 2011; $22.50)

Anthropologist Melvin Konner reveals how our childhood affects who we are individually and as a species. Morten Kringelbach described Konner as “an excellent tour guide to the sacred lands of childhood” (Nature 467, 918–919; 2010).

Evolution: The First Four Billion Years

Edited by:
(Harvard Univ. Press, 2011; $24.95)

This authoritative introduction to evolutionary biology delves into the history and controversies of the field. It includes an encyclopaedic section covering key figures and topics — from Aristotle and altruism to E. O. Wilson and sociobiology.

The Emperor of All Maladies

(Fourth Estate, 2011; £9.99)

In his 'biography of cancer', physician Siddhartha Mukherjee provides a new perspective on the disease and the people affected by it. While showing how modern understanding of cancer is leading to new tactics to control it, he also explores how humans fought it in the past.

Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature

(Icon Books, 2011; £12.99)

Fossil finds are revealing ever more about Earth and human history, explains Brian Switek in this accessible book. Reviewer Jan Zalasiewicz called it “a fine guide to the four-dimensional tapestry of life” (Nature 469, 32–33; 2011).

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play

(Oxford Univ. Press, 2011; £9.99)

Arsenic in the nineteenth century was ubiquitous — stored in kitchens as a rat killer, or used to dye sweets, candles and gloves. Historian James Whorton shows how its deadly past resonates with the environmental poisonings of today.

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Seven Patterns of Innovation

(Penguin, 2011; £9.99)

Good ideas, says writer Steven Johnson, are rarely produced by lone geniuses. Innovation more often grows out of a network of minds, he argues. Universities offer the best chance for breakthroughs as they lack market pressures.

Internet Alley: High Technology in Tysons Corner, 1945–2005

(MIT Press, 2011; $14.95)

Historian Paul Ceruzzi uncovers the story of the hub in Virginia from where much of the Internet is managed and governed. “Ceruzzi chronicles the evolution of Internet Alley astutely and accurately,” wrote Joel Shurkin (Nature 452, 533; 2008).

Leonardo's Legacy: How Da Vinci Reimagined the World

(Da Capo Press, 2011; $16)

Leonardo da Vinci designed a working robot, a heart valve and weapons. Science writer Stefan Klein analyses aspects of the artist's scientific genius, from well-known projects such as his flying machine to other, more obscure inventions.

The Mind's Eye

(Picador, 2011; £8.99)

A tumour led neurologist Oliver Sacks to lose his stereoscopic vision, prompting him to study other visual disorders and their effects on people. He reveals “the complex roles of sight in human life and the constitution of personal identity”, wrote Steve Silberman (Nature 467, 1036–1037; 2010).

Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences

(Harvard Univ. Press, 2011; $19.95)

Rebecca Jordan-Young reviews the research on supposed differences in male and female brains, arguing for more rigour. Virginia Valian called it “a welcome corrective” (Nature 470, 332–333; 2011).

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New in paperback. Nature 478, 316–317 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/478316a

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